Commentary, Trump Administration

Former GOP White House staffer: “Donald Trump is not well”

President Donald Trump (Credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

I am not, nor will I ever be, the sort who likes to make assessment about another person’s mental health. I am not, nor will I ever be, qualified to do so. I’ll leave that to professionals.

Furthermore, I’m wary of anyone who presents evidence of mental illness as disqualifying for office.

But a longtime GOP White House staffer — who served in the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush administrations — isn’t so shy about his analysis of the president of the United States.

Peter Wehner offered this blistering take on Donald Trump at The Atlantic Monday, arguing that it’s time for Americans to acknowledge the symptoms of mental illness in the president.

I don’t know about that, but he clearly is a wretched leader.

Read below though for Wehner’s fascinating argument:

From The Atlantic:

During the 2016 campaign, I received a phone call from an influential political journalist and author, who was soliciting my thoughts on Donald Trump. Trump’s rise in the Republican Party was still something of a shock, and he wanted to know the things I felt he should keep in mind as he went about the task of covering Trump.

At the top of my list: Talk to psychologists and psychiatrists about the state of Trump’s mental health, since I considered that to be the most important thing when it came to understanding him. It was Trump’s Rosetta stone.I wasn’t shy about making the same case publicly. During a July 14, 2016, appearance on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, for example, I responded to a pro-Trump caller who was upset that I opposed Trump despite my having been a Republican for my entire adult life and having served in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations and the George W. Bush White House.

“I don’t oppose Mr. Trump because I think he’s going to lose to Hillary Clinton,” I told Ben from Purcellville, Virginia. “I think he will, but as I said, he may well win. My opposition to him is based on something completely different, which is, first, I think he is temperamentally unfit to be president. I think he’s erratic, I think he’s unprincipled, I think he’s unstable, and I think that he has a personality disorder; I think he’s obsessive. And at the end of the day, having served in the White House for seven years in three administrations and worked for three presidents, one closely, and read a lot of history, I think the main requirement for president of the United States … is temperament, and disposition … whether you have wisdom and judgment and prudence.”

That statement has been validated. Read more

Commentary, immigration, Trump Administration

As Trump sets sights on the border wall, are North Carolinians willing to pay for it?

This is what happens when a preposterous campaign promise becomes an offensive reality.

No one outside of Donald Trump’s base particularly wanted the president’s expensive and ill-conceived border wall. It was, from the start, a promise made out of craven political opportunism, a bid to score points with rabid, red-meat, anti-immigrant neo-cons.

The question is: In 2019, with the news that it will cost North Carolina military bases about $80 million in new construction, does the wall still sell with Trump’s base, a population not likely to stomach military funding cuts? Indeed, what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable wall?

The News & Observer explained Wednesday how the diverted funds could impact some high-profile plans for North Carolina bases:

The affected projects in North Carolina include $40 million for a new battalion complex and ambulatory care center at Camp Lejeune, a previously canceled $32.9 million elementary school at Fort Bragg, and a $6.4 million storage facility for the new KC-46 tanker at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Those projects join cuts at a Florida base nearly destroyed by last year’s hurricane season, a new middle school for Kentucky’s Fort Campbell and a new fire station for a Marine Corps base in South Carolina.

In all, 34 installations in the United States and eight bases in U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands, will absorb $1.8 billion in domestic cuts to planned construction projects. Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017, is losing more than $400 million in planned military construction projects.

That money will be shifted to help support 11 military construction projects to extend the border wall at locations in Texas, Arizona and California. Another $1.8 billion will be pulled from planned construction projects at bases overseas to also support the border wall construction.

The Pentagon said in a briefing Tuesday that it was justified in shifting the $3.6 billion total in military construction funds to pay for border wall construction because it had determined that the wall was necessary to support military operations along the border.

A senior defense official briefing reporters Wednesday said the only factors that were considered on whether to cut a project was whether it had an award date after fiscal year 2020, and that no barracks or family housing would be cut.

That meant that bases hit hardest by last year’s hurricane season, including Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida were not spared. Tyndall will lose $17 million for a fire station.

But those are often projects that local leaders have spent years lobbying for in order to secure funding in the annual defense bill, and getting that funding is often seen as an important victory for elected leaders.

Asked how the Pentagon has explained to those local communities and leaders how the wall was a more important priority, the official didn’t answer directly but said that the hurricane-hit bases were already being repaired through supplemental hurricane funding. “We are committed to the rebuild of Tyndall,” the official said.

To get the projects back on track, however, the Pentagon will need Congress to backfill the funds, and Congress has not indicated it is willing to do that. “Conversations are ongoing with Congress,” the official said.

Only with Donald Trump do we hope campaign platitudes are just platitudes.

The Observer‘s editorial board followed through on Thursday, slamming U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis for the news, and not only for his most extraordinary flip-floppery on Trump’s border wall earlier this year.

But also for his handling of the president’s apparently politically-motivated Tweet this week, which seemed to indicate erroneously that it was Tillis, and not Gov. Roy Cooper, who asked the president for an emergency declaration in advance of Hurricane Dorian’s arrival in the Carolinas.

This story has about a 24-hour shelf life, which is to say it’s a grotesquely unimportant tidbit during Dorian, but it does capture — in one neat little shell — how strange Washington, D.C. is these days.

Stay safe during the storm.

Commentary, Trump Administration

Editorial: Trump’s outrageously shortsighted attack on the Endangered Species Act

An endangered red wolf in eastern North Carolina

You really can’t make this stuff up. We have more and more evidence every day that humans face an existential crisis as a result of, in effect, drowning themselves and the rest of the biosphere in their own effluent, and what do the Trumpists propose? Give yourself a gold star if you guessed weakening the already inadequate Endangered Species Act. As today’s lead editorial in the Greensboro News & Record observes, this is a dreadful idea, After noting that bills to eviscerate the law failed when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, the editorial explains that Trump and his minions plan to go ahead without Congress:

So the Trump administration has decided to gut the law on its own, by rewriting the rules of its enforcement. Unless something is done, less than a month from now, there will be fewer protections for threatened species. It will be easier to remove species from the endangered list. It will be easier for mining, drilling, logging and other business activities to proceed even if they will harm species.

Regulators will now be able to take into account “economic factors” when deciding if a species merits protection. That strikes at the heart of the law, which rightly has weighed science-based judgments taking the long view over immediate profits.

Equally bad, the changes would make it harder for regulators to consider effects of climate change on wildlife. Trump doesn’t believe in human causes of climate change anyway, so his administration isn’t likely to value scientific projections looking 20 or 30 years down the road. A recent U.N. report estimated that human activity is pushing 1 million species toward extinction.

After noting the long list of disastrous environmental policies Trump has been pursuing (on the climate crisis, coal, preserving open spaces and many others), the editorial concludes this way:

One of Trump’s rallying cries is about removing the “regulatory burden,” as if all regulations are bad. Sure, bureaucracy can be frustrating at times, but sensible regulations are needed to make sure that the self-interest we pursue is the enlightened kind.

Some states, members of Congress and environmental groups are gearing up to fight Trump’s move to cripple what may be the most important environmental law of the last 50 years. Good for them. A few years of wrongheaded policy could do damage that will last forever.

Click here to read the entire editorial.

News, Trump Administration

Coalition fighting transgender discrimination in health coverage at federal level

This week the Human Rights Campaign and a coalition of other progressive and LGBTQ rights groups submitted 130,000 public comments against a proposed regulation that would strip protections for transgender patients in the Affordable Care Act.

In 2016 the federal Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule involving 1557 of the act — its non-discrimination provision. It broadened the definition of discrimination “on the basis of sex” to include termination of pregnancy and gender identity.

After lawsuits from several states and health care groups, a federal court enjoined the gender identity and termination of pregnancy provisions — and the legal and cultural battles over them has continued.  President Donal Trump’s administration is proposing stripping those provisions from the act.

“Everyone deserves access to care, and no one should be turned away because of who they are or whom they love,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David in a statement this week.. “The Trump-Pence administration’s proposal undermines crucial non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people provided by the Affordable Care Act and puts LGBTQ people at greater risk of being denied health care solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. We oppose this proposal in the strongest terms.”

The Human Rights campaign points to studies showing  56 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual people and 70% of transgender and gender non-conforming people reported experiencing discrimination by healthcare providers. This can include refusal of care, harsh language and physical roughness because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, the group says.

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey report, 23 percent of transgender respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to because of fear of being mistreated as a transgender person. Fifty-five percent of transgender respondents who sought coverage for transition-related surgery were denied.

The National Center for Transgender Equality, the Transgender Law Center, and the Center for American Progress are also part of the coalition collecting comments from the public rejecting the proposed regulation.

In North Carolina, transgender state employees and dependents are facing their own health care crisis.

In March, a group of them filed a lawsuit over the state excluding treatment related to gender dysphoria and gender transition from the state health plan.

Commentary, News, Trump Administration

Deadline looms for comments on Trump’s proposed health protection rollback

The good people at Equality NC reminded us this morning that tomorrow (Tuesday, August 13) is the deadline for adding one’s name to an important effort to push back against the Trump administration’s anti-LGBTQ/anti-reproductive freedom agenda.

This is from advocates at the Transgender Law Center:

The Trump-Pence Administration is trying to undermine the Health Care Rights Law, a lifesaving law that helps transgender people access the health care they need without discrimination from health care providers or insurers. Now, the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing a regulation that falsely says discrimination against transgender people is legal.

While they can’t change the law, this new regulation would confuse patients, providers, and insurers, and make it much harder for many transgender people to access life-saving care.

And this is from the National Women’s Law Center:

The Trump-Pence administration has proposed a sweeping new rule that would allow widespread discrimination in health care by rolling back a key part of the ACA — the Health Care Rights Law, also known as Section 1557. This is a law that protects patients from discrimination in health care, including sex discrimination. The administration is trying to turn back the clock on our rights, but we won’t let that happen.

Do you have a personal story about barriers you faced when trying to access health care, like feeling afraid of being judged or shamed when planning a doctor’s visit or having a provider dismiss your pain or symptoms because of your race or gender? Sharing that story in your comment will help add to its impact!

This administration is obligated to read every single unique comment submitted about this rule – now is the time to make your voice heard. Personalizing your message will add to its impact. Please take the time to add your thoughts or share a personal story about a health care experience you’ve had that blocked or discouraged you from accessing care.

Both groups are urging caring and thinking people to join tens of thousands of others in submitting comments to the U.S. department of Health and Human Services by tomorrow, August 13.

Click here and here to learn more and find easy forms to complete to tell your story and submit a comment.